Friday, 16 August 2013

Bridgwater Royal Mail strikes: Stronger than ever after eight days!

110 Bridgwater Royal Mail strikers, out on the gate for their eighth day tomorrow, Saturday 17th, are more determined than ever to secure a decent settlement from their employer. They have also welcomed an intervention on their behalf from Len McCluskey of the Unite union.

The Bridgwater postmen and women are in the Bristol Branch of the CWU/Communication Workers Union, which is dealing with scores of local strike ballot requests from all over the country, as the Government prepares for its autumn plan to sell Royal Mail off.

Most of these local issues are the same: excessive workloads; a punitive managerial regime that disciplines staff of up to 45 years service for working too slow; finally, managers breaking local and national agreements with the CWU that protect health and safety, earnings levels, and permanent and full-time job opportunities.

Dave Chapple, Bristol CWU Branch Chair and shop steward at Bridgwater’s Friarn St office, said:
“Bridgwater lads and lasses on strike have reacted with calm and a quiet determination to an extremely aggressive supervisory regime that has been trying to provoke wildcat strikes for a month or more now. Managers have secretly spied on us, peeked under toilet doors, bullied us out of tea and fag breaks, refused legitimate overtime claims, taken us off our own duties, changed duty start and finish times without agreement, chivvied us in public for not walking or cycling fast enough, threatened temporary contract staff with reductions in hours, and banned and threatened CWU Reps with disciplinary action for performing their legitimate union activities. All this because we dared to challenge an imposed and un-agreed summer ‘savings’plan.

Stronger than ever despite your systematic bulling regime, we now have this serious message to send to senior Royal Mail managers at regional and national level: 

You have made a serious mistake in trying to beat Bridgwater by starving us back to work. You have seriously underestimated our strength: after 8 days out, we are stronger than ever, thanks to the support we are getting daily from other Royal Mail workplaces, CWU Branches and trades unionists all over the country. Please can you now admit your tactics are misguided: please pension off your hawks, sit down with us and work out a decent future at Friarn St, where there is no place for bullies, a future that can, together, Save our Royal Mail and Keep the Post Office Public! “

Bridgwater postmen and women are also on strike this Monday 19th, and have requested their CWU HQ a whole week commencing 2nd September.Sympathetic members of the public, our friends in the media, and all our brother and sister trade union members are welcome on our picket lines between 5am and 9am. Postcode is TA6 3XX.”

Dave Chapple also said: “We especially welcome members of the Unite union to our picket line. Up to 150 members of Unite-Royal Mail managers-have been crossing our picket lines during our last seven strikes days, and attempting to undertake our delivery work: we now understand that Len McCluskey himself has written to all these managers instructing them not to come to Bridgwater to try and break the strike. That’s great news for us!

For photos, requests to interview, invites to speak, messages of support, further information, and donations to the Bridgwater Royal Mail dispute fund, please contact

Dave Chapple on 0777 6304 276,

Cheques to be sent to Dave Chapple 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU;
and made out to “Bridgwater Trades Union Council.”

The attached photo was taken on 29th June and is credited to “Exeter TUC”: It shows the TUC anti-austerity bus blocking the Bridgwater Delivery Office gate with 60 pickets!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Twenty one people attended the first meeting of the Bridgwater People’s Assembly, all eager to take the fight against the impoverishment and disempowerment of the majority for the benefit of the elite minority back to the Government.

The following points were agreed:
  • As attendance was wider than the Bridgwater area, it was agreed to change the name and scope of the group to the People’s Assembly Somerset.
  • Perry Stevens agreed to keep the contacts list and manage the group email box.
  • All further appointments were put on hold until the next meeting, and it was agreed that some posts, such as chair should rotate. We will evolve the group as we go along rather than being formal.
  • Glen Burrows and Gwyn Holland will look into and publicise travel arrangements for the “Rage Against the Tories”/support the NHS demo outside the Tory party conference in Manchester on 29th September.
  • There will be an interim meeting for your wishing to organise in Bridgwater for the 5th November day of action on 16th September at 19:30, at the Carnival Inn (“Wetherspoons”), 37 St Mary Street, Bridgwater, TA6 3LY.
  • We should support the Bristol People Assembly’s mass sleep out event on 24th August in protest against the Bedroom Tax. Can anyone who wants to do something similar in Bridgwater please email:
  • We agreed to meet every 2 months on the second Monday of the month. Therefore the next full meeting of the Peoples Assembly Somerset will be at Monday 14th October at 19:30, at Railway Club, Wellington Rd, Bridgwater, TA6 5HA  
Our facebook page: 
If you would like more information on the People’s Assembly movement see: 
If you would like to see the broad range of organisations and individuals already affiliated to the movement, see:

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bridgwater Postal Workers need your support now

Dave Chapple
'call for help'



7th August 2013
Bridgwater Royal Mail dispute: thank you from 110 strikers for your financial support and picket-line solidarity!
Our next four days of strike action are this Saturday August 10th, Monday August 12th, Saturday August 17th, Monday August 19th: please continue your support!
110 members at Bridgwater Delivery Office in Somerset, having already taken 5 days of strike action, are now embarking on another four days of strikes with the possibility of a whole week at the beginning of September.
The original issues are still with us and unresolved: un-agreed cuts to full-time jobs and overtime; failure to negotiate with the union; failure to pay money for previous savings;  and too many bullying managers. 
Royal Mail, unlike many previous legal official and unofficial strikes at Bridgwater, are digging in and refusing to consider reasonable compromises.

In the last few weeks, in between strikes, many local agreements have been ripped up and CWU members increasingly harassed. CWU Reps have been moved from work areas, isolated, and banned from the office on their days off. Postmen and women have been spied on, followed, harangued by three managers at a time for ‘breaking off’ or being too slow, until they break down or go sick.
To complete the hypocrisy, the senior manager remains in charge and un-suspended despite allegations of signing for and opening a Special Delivery letter addressed to a postman who is taking out a bullying and harassment charge against him!

There is a strong feeling in the Delivery Office that the employer is trying to provoke a wildcat walk out on a carefully-chosen issue that might split the office. We ARE trying to keep it legal.

What has restored morale and determination is the magnificent response to the Bridgwater Dispute Fund Appeal, both within the Communication Workers’ Union and the wider trade union movement.
Over twenty trades unionists from a dozen unions have addressed our Friarn St picket lines which run from 5am to 9am: ‘solidarity hour’ is between 8am and 9am. Our next four strikes are Saturday 10th August, Monday 12th August, Saturday 17th August, and Monday 19th August. See you there!  Royal Mail, 25 Friarn St, TA6 3XX

A CWU Rep from the dispute or our Bristol Branch is always available to speak at trade union branch meetings, while financial solidarity-as well as picket-line speakers-is as vital as ever. 

Please make any cheques payable to ‘Bridgwater Trades Union Council’ and send to Dave Chapple, CWU, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU tel. 0777 6304 276